The thought of being discovered as a mystery shopper at the job site can make a mystery shopper’s heart race. A small percentage of mystery shoppers will have this unfortunate event happen to them. But if you find yourself in the middle of a potential blown-cover fiasco, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.
It’s Merely A Suspicion. An attentive salesperson may pick up on certain things you do or say and piece the clues together. Yet the salesperson may hold back on saying anything directly to you about it in the hopes of getting a good mark from you or even to avoid potential embarrassment. If your salesperson suspects you are a mystery shopper, you may hear leading questions from the salesperson as he tried to dig for more information from you. Or he may play the role of the perfect salesperson and move into an ultra-service-oriented mode despite an attitude to the contrary at the beginning of your assignment. You may also have a salesperson who wants to play with you a little bit, perhaps intentionally trying to look for holes in your cover story and blow them wide open.
If you pick up on the fact that your salesperson is suspicious of you, remain cool and collected. Keep your mind focused on the task at hand and complete your assignment. You may feel the need to bolt for the door, but resist this urge. You stand no chance of getting paid for your time and efforts if you fail to complete the assignment.
When They Call You On It. A bold salesperson may come right out and ask if you are a mystery shopper. First and foremost, deny that you are a mystery shopper. Act even a little offended and put off by the possibility, or play the “dumb card” and act like you don’t believe mystery shopping is even legit. Then, remaining calm, exit the store as soon as it is safe to do so without drawing even more attention to yourself. At this point, there is no need to continue on with completing the assignment requirements. When your cover has been blown this wide open, you certainly will not get paid for your efforts.
Make The Call. After you leave the store, immediately notify your scheduler about the events of your assignment. If you merely have suspicions, make it clear to the provider that the salesperson did not make any direct comments about mystery shopping, but it’s possible your position may have been comprised. Be sure to tell the scheduler that you have completed the assignment requirements in their entirety, and ask if you should submit the report. Also ensure you will be paid for the assignment if you submit the report.
If your salesperson came right out and made his suspicions clear to you, you won’t be getting paid on the assignment. But it’s still important to let the provider know what happened right away so they can handle things on their end. They will need to contact the retailer as well as possibly locate another mystery shopper to complete the assignment. You may be unhappy about not getting paid on the assignment, but avoid the urge to raise a fuss about it. Keep in mind that the findings of your on-site visit cannot be used by the retailer. And whether it is your fault or not that your cover is blown, another mystery shopper still needs to be sent out to get the results the retailer is paying for. Keep your relationship with the provider intact to ensure future jobs with them.
While being identified as a mystery shopper is not a pleasant experience, it is an experience you can learn from if you handle it in the right way.